Hello my fellow artists! If you’re in the United States, I hope you are having a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend. For my fellow screenwriters and TV writers out there who are interested in submitting content to writing competitions, but don’t know where to start, I hope that my quick blog entry will help.
As with film festivals, there are a PLETHORA of writing competitions. It can seem and feel daunting when looking at the myriad of choices out there. For example, when I recently logged into my Coverfly account, the dashboard revealed 154 writing competitions available for submissions. 154?! What?!
And if you don’t know what Coverly is, here is some info about this platform: https://www.coverfly.com/brief-introduction-coverfly-writers/#:~:text=Coverfly%20is%20an%20opportunity%20for,your%20competition%20successes%20to%20work.
Submitting to writing competitions (and film festivals) as a way to get your work out there, to get noticed, to receive feedback or coverage, can become a very expensive endeavor. Don’t just submit blindly. The best advice I can give to you before you begin your journey is to do your homework. Research. When I started submitting my films to film festivals, yes, I submitted to some of the big ones (Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca, New York Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, etc.) cause why not? However, once I got the big festivals out of the way, I also did further research to find the festivals that would be tailor-made for my films. For example, if my film featured a Latinx cast and storyline, then I knew that I should find film festivals that were geared towards Latinx-based projects. If my film was directed by a woman, then I found film festivals that celebrated and encouraged films directed by women. If my film was sci-fi, then I found film festivals that focused on this particular genre.
As a result, my submissions became more targeted. More focused. My films fell within the zip code of those particular film festivals because I was speaking their language. Writing competitions are no different. Do the research. Aim for the big ones (cause why not?) and aim for the ones that are targeted to the type of script you have for a more specific, bullseye approach. Not all competitions are equal and built the same way. Some have been around for a while and are highly-regarded and respected. Others are brand new and have only been in the game for one year. Some competitions come and go.
Some factors to consider: how long the competition has been in existence for, its mission statement, its end goals for the writers who enter and win, the judges involved in the competition, the sponsors behind the competition, etc. By the way, I’m not here to say which ones to submit to and which ones to avoid. It’s up to you to do the research and decide for yourself. Listen to your instincts and use your common sense.
Below, I have listed a few established, industry-recognized writing competitions. I found these writing competitions based upon industry colleague recommendations and through my own research. There may be a lot more established, industry-recognized writing competitions, but at least this list will get your wheels going (If you know of other established writing competitions, please leave a comment below so I can add them to the list.) And with the exception of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships which only focuses on screenplays, the other competitions listed below accept both screenplays and TV scripts.
Academy Nicholl Fellowships: https://www.oscars.org/nicholl
Austin Film Festival: https://austinfilmfestival.com/submit/screenplay-and-teleplay-submissions-2/
Final Draft Big Break: https://www.finaldraft.com/big-break-screenwriting-contest/
Page Awards: https://pageawards.com/
Script Pipeline: https://scriptpipeline.com
Shore Scripts: https://www.shorescripts.com
The Black List: https://blcklst.com/
Tracking Board Launch Pad: https://tblaunchpad.com/
Featured image courtesy of Suzy Hazelwood: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-and-red-typewriter-1995842/